Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

This morning I realized that none of us took any photos of the Boo opening presents. I also realized that I am not sad about that.

All three of the adults in the house were sick, or recovering from sickness, on Christmas morning. I woke up with vertigo, so it was all I could do to hang on to the walls as I shuffled to and from the couch. My mom took care of the Boo (and me) while he opened presents and Daddy slept off yet another day of The Flu That Would Not Die. Then I went back to bed when the Dramamine sent me spiraling down to La-La Land. But because I had almost literally dragged myself to the couch, I got to see the Boo open presents, which was enjoyable even with waves of nausea and a spinning head. So I don’t feel like I missed all that much.

It’s true that on occasion we like to go back through photos of past Christmases. But we do that so rarely that I’m not sure I’ll miss having photos of this particular Christmas, the particular wrapping paper and presents and reactions (and with an iPhone camera, we usually miss the best shots). And it occurs to me that relying on our memories may be just as good, or even better, in terms of conjuring the feelings we get when we look at photos. That’s what we’re after anyway, right? Recapturing those pleasurable moments of seeing and experiencing the joy of family members receiving gifts?

And here’s another bonus: Without having a phone in front of our faces, scrambling for the perfect shot, we were really there, fully present and feeling everything. Without photos to focus on, we will talk to each other, our faces reflecting the shared experience, and maybe amplifying it.

So yeah, I’m not sad about not having photos from Christmas 2017.  I may even make it a new family tradition.

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Last week as an old work buddy was doing me the tremendous favor of cutting apart the Boo’s school photos (seriously I would pay an extra five bucks for that because I canNOT cut a straight line) I said something misty about how much my kid has changed since September. My friend said something really smart in response: We all change all the time, but we don’t think we do. Well, that was the spirit of it. I don’t recall the precise words because Baby Ate My Brain. 

Anyway, it’s gotten me thinking about the changes I’ve undergone this school year, right along with my kid. 

He’s grown taller and gotten heavier, while I have grown wider. (Seriously, Mother Nature?!)

He’s gained confidence in his physical abilities by exploring the creek behind his school and pushing the playground to its limits. I’ve done the same by trying wacky fitness classes in order to write about them. 

He’s acquired a taste for Rush, ACDC and Ozzy Osbourne, and I’ve learned to tolerate them. 

He’s gained more sophisticated debate skills, and I’ve developed new parrying techniques that (mostly) don’t piss him off. 

He’s discovered the joys of extended day, and I’ve discovered I can get professional, paid writing done during those glorious additional kid-free hours. Or catch up on Call the Midwife (it takes hours for the Ugly Cry Face to dissipate).

He’s moved into the “I can do it/I know how/Let me try” phase, and I’ve learned to sit on my hands/say yes/not react to the appearance of a mess on the floor I JUST cleaned.

He’s learned how to write his name, and I’ve learned to decode his scrawl.

He’s made great strides in negotiating relationships with his peers, and I’ve learned how to negotiate Facebook troll attacks.

He started wearing glasses a few weeks after I started wearing stronger bifocals. 

You get the idea, but I’ve saved the best for last: At the beginning of the year, the Boo reported in horrified Junior Narc tones that some of his classmates used potty talk. Last week he told me, eyes a-twinkle, “I do potty talk at school now Mama!” Then he waited for a reaction. All I gave him was a bored, “Oh really?”

See, even a Mama-Come-Lately can learn new tricks. Happy Summer, everyone!

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We recently took the Boo on a weeklong road trip to see family in Michigan. I’d been apprehensive about long stretches of car time with a 3.5-year-old, but for the most part he was a fantastic traveler. Here are the highlights:

You requested this song so many times Mama and Daddy got sick of it.

You slept in three houses and one cabin in the space of a week. You slept the best in the cabin — a few miles from Lake Huron, no water, no electricity. You slept the worst the final night, when you were sick and overtired and had just met three of Mama’s coolest cousins. 

You attended a party with too many family members to list here. You jumped right in to play with kids who were many years older than you, and enjoyed playing with a giant Jenga set. 

You were introduced to a Magic Eight-Ball. You kept asking it if you needed to pee.

You visited the Henry Ford Museum, where your favorite things were sitting in the driver’s seat of a giant steam locomotive and watching the toy trains go around and around their track. You were so tired from fighting a cold that Daddy had to carry you most of the time, but even so, you didn’t want to leave. 

You held the youngest member of the family, briefly, with a fair amount of help. 

You met roughly seven dogs, and after some angst you decided they were all okay. 

You chowed down on homemade puris — the only new food you tried on the trip. 

You were carried into a chicken coop to take a freshly laid egg from a nest,  and we brought it home safely. The next morning, we cracked it open and compared it to a store-bought egg. You declined to taste it when Mama cooked it up for you. 

You ran free in front yards, back yards, in and out of back doors, and down country roads. 

You loved playing with the sand at the tiny beach at the cabin. You also liked watching Daddy skip rocks. 

You enjoyed a meal at the Black Lake Golf Club, where you dined on corn chips and fries. 

You enjoyed peeing outside at the cabin, and you got really good at it. 

You helped Daddy wash the bugs off the car the day after we got home. 

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It’s been over a week since Toyfest ’14, a/k/a Christmas, and already the memories are fading. Herewith I hope to capture at least a few.

– You asked if Santa was coming/if it was Christmas every few days for the entire month of December. You also asked where Santa was. A lot. Whenever Mama asked if you wanted to meet Santa, you said no, then you asked to go see him day after Christmas.

– You enjoyed decorating the tree, which in your world means telling Mama where to put the ornaments, and then occasionally pulling them off and leaving them somewhere after trying and failing to put them back on.

– You didn’t notice the gradual increase of gifts under the tree, but the appearance of a stuffed stocking on Christmas morning made an impression. (See cookies for Santa entry below.)

– You enjoyed making cookies with Mama, and became proficient at sifting and dumping and stirring. Rolling cookie dough balls in sugar, not so much — though you were very good at eating spoonfuls of sugar. You also loved playing with the stand mixer — it spent about a month on the floor so you could look at it, ask questions about it, attach and detach the beaters, and turn it on and off (with supervision).

– You went with Mama and Daddy to deliver plates of cookies to the neighbors. You only wanted to climb the stairs to ring the bell at one house, where twin girls live. At another house, the Chinese granny treated you to her rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — on the harmonica.

– You enjoyed the Polish Christmas Eve tradition of oplatki — basically a giant communion wafer stamped with Christmas scenes that you break and eat with family while wishing them well in the coming year.

– You seemed skeptical about leaving a note and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, but you gamely went along with it. We left your empty stocking next to the plate so Santa could fill it for you, and he did — with Gummi Bears, jelly beans, a tiny motorcycle, and a Caillou doll.

– You really got into opening presents this year, but we still didn’t get through all of them on Christmas. However, you also enjoyed opening the stragglers for days afterward. And still, everyone was so generous that we held a few of our gifts back for your birthday.

– You liked all your presents, but particularly enjoyed playing with your take-apart engine (from Daddy) and watching Totoro (from Grammie) on Christmas Day. As the days have gone by, you’ve been playing with everything in rotation.

– You were okay with putting away the ornaments and lights, but balked at parting with your Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD and negotiated to keep it for an extra day. Mama was not thrilled with this arrangement, but agree to it in the spirit of Christmas.

– You occasionally ask where the ornaments are, and if it’s Christmas again. Mama does her best to explain that Christmas only happens once a year.

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We spent Thanksgiving with my family in LA. Herewith, the highlights of the Boo’s first West Coast encounter.

You did very well on the flights, though it must be said the extra attention from the Southwest flight attendants was very helpful. As was the iPad loaded with Caillou videos.

You glommed onto your Unk almost as soon as you saw him. Within a week, you were asking for your Auntie when you woke up from naps and dancing a little greeting jig for her. She danced right along with you.

You wanted to know if we were still in LA every time with left Unk and Auntie’s house.

You saw Frozen, Cars, and The Little Mermaid for the first time, and joined your cousins in the traditional post-screening dance parties. You kept asking for the “build a snowman movie” for the rest of the trip.

You followed your girl cousins around the house, prompting one of them to complain a bit about your puppy-dog ways. A few days later, they were reading books to you.

You got creamed by one high-swinging cousin. After that, you were very careful to give her a wide berth whenever she was on the swing — and she stopped swinging to play with you on the playhouse slide.

You ate meals very nicely both with the family and at restaurants. There may have been chocolate chips involved.

You adjusted to the new time zone within 24 hours, and were willing to sleep on the floor at night as long as you got to sleep on your cousin’s bed for naps. Once back home, you started lobbying for a big bed almost immediately by complaining about the bars on your toddler bed.

You learned how to eat a Popsicle, thanks to your cousins and your Unk, who responded to your confusion with, “Look at them and do what they,re doing.”

You saw Dolphins herding fish to shore.

You took such a shine to your grandpa-in-law (you let him pick you up!) that he volunteered to be your surrogate grandpa since both of yours are gone.

You were fascinated by the ocean, waves, surfers, and sand at Venice Beach. A big wave surprised you and knocked you on your butt in the 64-degree water, but once you got over the shock you wanted to go right back in. You grabbed handfuls of sand over and over and wanted to take some home — this, despite being reluctant to touch it at school.

You began shouting “mine!” and “I want to do it myself!” after a few days with your cousins.

You also began poking your cousins after a few days, and began following pokes with, “Time out?” and a grin. So much for that disciplinary tactic.

You occasionally asked to go home, usually when you were tired or hungry.

You did not miss your toys, probably because it was so warm you went outside as soon as you finished breakfast and had to be coaxed in after dark on more than one occasion.

You learned the word “thankful” because of the family’s suppertime thankfulness tradition. Once, you said you were thankful for school, another time, for Mama. Back at home, you’re responding to mealtimes by saying, “I want to say something” and then saying what you’re thankful for.

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The first time I took the Boo into a swimming pool, he got so happy so fast that rainbows shot out his behind. Then the swimming instructor came over and got in his face and he started crying. But the water made him so happy that he soon forgot the scary lady.

Soon, I resolved to sign up for a Y membership so he could get more water time. I figured I could take a stab at swimming laps too, since I hate gyms and I haven’t worked out regularly in at least 5 years. (Probably more like 7 to 10.)

The first time I pushed off from the wall, I got so happy so fast that rainbows shot out my behind. It had been 25 years, but my body remembered how to do what I wanted it to do. I paused in the middle of a lap to laugh. I swam until I was exhausted and hauled myself out, panting my way to the showers, indescribably pleased.

Since then, I swim any time I can. If I am tired when I start, I forget about it in the water. If my back hurts, I can’t feel it when I’m swimming. If I am in a crappy mood when I start, I am pooping rainbows when I finish. The water holds me as I move forward, giving me peace and joy and happiness as I move through it.

I don’t want to call it a benediction, even though it does border on the mystical. But my body loves the water so much it feels like a gift every time I’m in it — even when I’m sharing the lane with a tank of a triathlete and a dogpaddler who belongs in the “old people walking” section.

The other night at the Boo’s first parent-teacher conference, I uttered the words, “Water is his jam.” Turns out it’s my jam too.

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You consistently said you wanted to be a bee for weeks before Halloween. So two days before the big night, Mama got to work with a black sweatshirt, yellow duct tape, coat hangers, pipe cleaners, and pom-poms. Because there might be bee costumes for little boys online, but in the Halloween stores they only have ones for little girls, babies and full-grown women.

You said you didn’t want to go trick-or-treating when you woke up on Halloween.

You changed your tune after your nap, when Mama reminded you about the whole candy thing.

You were a trooper about struggling into your costume – even with the sides snipped, the duct tape turned your sweatshirt-costume into a straitjacket. (Note to self: If the boy is a bee next year, apply the tape after you put the sweatshirt on.)

You looked so great in your costume that somebody thought it was store-bought. (At this point, Mama actually huffed on her nails and buffed them on her shoulder.)

You vibrated with joy every time Mama said you could eat your candy on the spot. A nearby dad thought you were shivering.

You had a death grip on a lollipop in your hand for most of the time we were going from house to house.

You loved hunting for houses with porch lights on. You also enjoyed ringing doorbells.

You asked for chocolate first thing in the morning on November 1, and said you wanted to go to Halloween later that day.

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The Boo walking around with a blanket over his head, deliriously tired and laughing like a maniac.

Narrating his cooking play: “We need some coffee in the filter, then pour some back, that’s too much, now pour the hot water…”

Cracking up while singing to him at bedtime because he started giggling in the middle of singing along with me.

Waiting a few seconds for him to speak when he’s clearly thinking very hard about what he wants to say.

Sleepy morning hugs when he just drapes himself over me.

When he says “Want to rest on Mama for a little bit” after we finish reading books, before we walk to his bed. He reclines on me like I’m a human BarcaLounger and we talk about the day.

His dead-on imitation of me answering my phone, and the sweetly devilish grin that follows.

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You are, for all practical purposes, two and a half years old.

You now have this at your disposal:


You are working on the physics of pedaling, though you still find pushing forward with your feet Fred Flintstone-style to be far more efficient.

You ask, “What happened?” almost constantly, as a way to review the immediate past. Sometimes you answer yourself, sometimes we help you out.

You recited the following passage from a book after hearing it approximately six times: “Let’s start in the jungle where the tall trees grow and the monkeys swing from vine to vine.” You did this over your post-nap snack, just after seemingly spacing out for a few minutes.

You have several other favorite questions: “What is that?”, “What is that called?”, and “Where’s Daddy?”

You are making good progress on straightening out your pronoun usage because when you say, “You want Kix” or some such, Mama looks confused and says, “I don’t want Kix!” But your default setting is still to use “you” instead of “I.”

You have been introduced to the concept of privacy.

You have no desire to ditch your diapers, though we did buy you some very cute Thomas underpants that you like to look at now and again. Also, you’ve peed in the tub a few times, so you know how that works.

You have some charming toddler mispronunciations: piwwow (pillow), fadder (father), suhkuw (circle), dare (there), etc.

You adore having your Avva (Indian grandma) with us. You ask where she is when you wake up, and run to her when you find her. You also love to haul her around by the finger, and playfully run into her on occasion, so we have explained that she is delicate. Your favorite things to do with her are play hide and seek and go on walks.

You want to wear a sari like Avva does; you have settled for being wrapped in a towel.

You have started drawing cats, narrating the entire process: “We need a circle, and some pointy ears, and whiskers…”

You are utterly delighted with the conversion of your crib to a toddler bed. You expected all the rails to come off, not just the front panel, but we explained that’s to keep you safe, just like on Caillou’s bed, and you seemed to accept that.

You sat up and called for Mama the first morning you woke up in your big boy bed. So we practiced getting up, opening your door, and finding Mama. At the start of that day’s nap, you sprang up to go find Mama. Mama explained that big boys stay in their beds until after they wake up from their naps. She asked if you could do that, and you said yes. Then you went to sleep.

You have added “mommy” to the other names you call your mother (Mama, Amma). None of us use that term, so it took us a while to figure out you did this because that’s what Caillou calls his mother.

You are two and a half, and you reveal more of your big boy brain every day.

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A few weeks ago, on a whim, I began to sing the Alphabet Song and stopped to see if the Boo would pick up where I left off. I sang “A B C D” and he chimed in, though not singing, “E F G.” I sang a few more letters, he spoke the ones that came next. We went through the song a few more times, and no matter where I left off, he picked right up and never got the sequence wrong.

Yesterday I started the same way, singing “A B C” and then stopping. He said, “NOT D.” And giggled. I giggled, and we continued this way through the whole song, singing, speaking and giggling, right down to “now I know my” “NOT ABCs.”

Such a mystery, the mind of the toddler. So much information packed in there, and such creativity in how it comes back out.

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